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Missoula Personal Injury Blog

New studies reveal no single cure for distracted driving

Public safety officials have not definitively linked an increase in distracted driving to the increase in fatal car accidents, but most drivers in Montana probably think that it would make sense to. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 37,150 people died on America's roads in 2017, which is more than a 10 percent jump from only three years prior. In the meantime, more new technology, especially automated technology, is being introduced.

Several new studies have analyzed the effect of technology on drivers' attention. Researchers at the University of Utah, for example, compared in-car infotainment systems with interfaces like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which run off smartphones.

July 4 sees highest number of fatal car crashes, says IIHS

Montana drivers know that holidays bring with them a greater risk for accidents on the road. They may be wondering which is the deadliest holiday for such accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has analyzed fatal car crash data from 2010 and 2014 and found that Independence Day, followed by New Year's Day, is the most dangerous.

During that five-year period, there were a total 592 deaths on July 4, creating an average of 118.4 deaths per year. New Year's came to an average of 118.2 deaths per year. One major factor in these deaths was alcohol; 47 percent of deaths on July 4th and 62 percent on New Year's were attributed to a driver, pedestrian or bicyclist with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher.

Study Shows Cancer Treatments May Be Overprescribed

As the death rate from cancer climbed in past years, the focus of the medical community was to limit deaths through increased treatment. However, in recent years the death rate from cancer in Montana and around the country has fallen. This has led researchers to wonder if cancer patients are now overtreated, which could lead to medical malpratice. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, they believe the answer to that question may be yes.

At their June 2018 meeting, the society has largely concluded that some patients were receiving treatment, including radiation, which was unnecessary. One example the society discussed was a common form of breast cancer known as HER-2 negative disease. In many cases, an anti-hormone treatment and surgery were enough to cure the disease. In many cases, women were urged to go through chemotherapy anyway. The harmful effects of chemotherapy were used despite being unnecessary.

Study finds early blindness frequently misdiagnosed

A new study has found that one in four optical patients in Montana and across the United States are misdiagnosed during their eye exams. Researchers at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, carried out the study and found that approximately 25 percent of patients who had age-related macular degeneration (AMD) were misdiagnosed by eye professionals.

The study reexamined 644 patients who had previously undergone an eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist with dilation. All of the patients had been found to have normal vision during the exam, but the reexamination found that a fourth of the patients had signs of AMD. Currently, AMD is the main cause of permanent vision loss in individuals who are older than 50.

When you don't feel well, several days after an accident

The day you were involved in an auto accident may have begun like any other typical day. Perhaps you drove your kids to school or commuted to work, or both. When you clocked out at work, you were looking forward to meeting your spouse at your favorite local pub for a fish sandwich and a beer. You never arrived there because you wound up in a hospital instead. If another motorist's negligence was responsible for your injuries, you may face an emotional, as well as physical, struggle in recovery. 

Some Montana accident victims suffered worse injuries than they realized in past situations when initial physical examinations seemed to have gone well. A day or several days later, they began to show signs of traumatic brain injury. Recovering from a TBI can be a long, arduous process. You can't get help if you don't know you're injured, however. Being able to recognize signs of a brain injury and knowing where to seek support are key factors toward a successful recovery.  

How seatbelts reduce the severity of liver injuries

Drivers in Montana who do not wear their seat belts will want to know about the results of a study conducted by researchers at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn. This study shows that seat belt use can, in the event of an auto accident, decrease the risk of a severe liver injury by as much as 21 percent. Seat belt and airbag use together leads to 26 percent less risk even though seat belts alone seem to decrease the severity of the injury itself.

The study covered data from the National Trauma Data Bank for the years 2010 to 2015. All of the patients who were analyzed were over the age of 18 and involved in a vehicle crash, excluding motorcycles. They were either admitted to a hospital or died on the way to one. A total of 51,202 cases were given an injury severity score, and 15 percent were categorized as severe. Fifteen percent of the individuals with severe liver injuries died compared to 8 percent of those with mild or moderate liver injuries.

Mobile apps could help doctors make more accurate diagnoses

Many Montana residents depend on mobile apps to make their lives easier, but a new study found that apps could also help them get better medical care. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Physician-focused mobile health apps are becoming more common in the health care industry. They are designed to help doctors perform various tasks, including making diagnostic and testing decisions. The problem is that no one had ever studied the usefulness of these apps in a medical setting. That changed when researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention teamed with researchers from Baylor University to test the CDC's PTT Advisor app, which aims to help doctors diagnose and test for certain coagulation and bleeding disorders.

Daydreaming could be more distracting to drivers than cellphones

Most of the distracted driving accidents that took place in Montana and around the country over the last five years were caused by drivers who were daydreaming or lost in thought, according to a recent study from Erie Insurance. These findings contradict the prevailing narrative that the recent surge in distracted driving is largely due to cellphone use. Erie Insurance researchers produced their report, which was released at the beginning of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, after studying Fatality Analysis Reporting System data about accidents that claimed the lives of 172,000 road users.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's FARS database relies heavily on the reports filed by police officers who respond to motor vehicle accident scenes, and some experts believe that this means the problem of distracted driving is being underreported. This is because distraction leaves few clues for law enforcement, and a driver who has just caused an accident may not be eager to admit that he or she was not paying attention.

Data entry software can reduce risk of misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose a severe illness like cancer can be a significant fear for patients visiting the doctor or going to the hospital in Montana and across the country. There can be serious consequences of an incorrect diagnosis or other doctor error, because people can receive incorrect and potentially harmful treatment while lacking much-needed treatment for their actual disorder. This can lead to a declining health condition or even the possibility of the disease becoming untreatable. This means that for health institutions concerned about both liability and patient care, reducing diagnostic errors is a priority.

When performing bone density scans, the use of data entry software for radiology departments can help to cut down on the number of diagnostic errors. This is especially true when reporting the results of ultrasound or dual-energy X-ray (DEXA) radiology tests. The software can also help save time and money; over a five-year period, a study indicated that using this type of software could save a hospital $1 million in radiologists' wages. Most important for patients, however, is the fact that between 6 and 28 percent of all reports from ultrasound or DEXA radiology contain errors related to data entry.

Charting errors could lead to major medical mistakes

Medical errors can have long-lasting and dangerous consequences for patients receiving treatment in Montana. In fact, medical mistakes remain one of the leading causes of death in the United States as over 250,000 people die each year due to such errors. This means that reducing the number and severity of mistakes is critical for patient health and safety.

Because most treatment provided to patients is documented, omitted or incorrect information on a medical chart can lead to serious effects and later mistreatment. While digital records have been a major advance in medical technology, these advances could occasionally lead to medical errors that are more difficult to correct. In order to protect patients, it is important for nurses to record all relevant information, including food and drug allergies. If actions for a patient are not recorded, later shifts may make errors due to missing information.

Contact

Towe & Fitzpatrick, PLLC
619 SW Higgins, Ste. O
P.O. Box 1745
Missoula, MT 59806

Phone: 406-203-5148
Phone: 406-829-1669
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